Flamethrowers toss the ‘Tide around at home
The second last Riptide home game of the 2015 season was against the San Francisco Flamethrowers on the 27th of June. The Flamethrowers are looking like strong contenders for a Western Division playoff spot, but have the Growlers and Aviators nipping at their heels. Therefore, at this point in the season, everything is a must- win. The Riptide were not going to make it easy for them, despite having no chance of making the playoffs themselves.
At first, however, the opposite seemed to be true. Right out of the gate, due entirely to their own errors, the Riptide went down 0-5, their largest early deficit of the season. The first goal we scored came after our O line turned it over. Edward Guo, absent from the last two games in California, had a speedy run through D which seemed to wake up the team. After Underhill brought down the point to put his team on the scoreboard, there were less than two minutes left in what must have been one of the lowest scoring first quarters. The final point was scrappy, but neither team could convert, and the quarter finished at 1-5.
The Riptide were in a bit of shocked disbelief that the quarter was already over, but woke themselves up for the next portion of the game. Rumi Tejpar stepped up the defensive intensity, and Max Hunter made one of the best plays he’s made all year with a layout catch for the score. With that energy, the Riptide managed to claw their way back to within one, at 6-7 halfway through the second quarter. However, another pair of breaks from the consistently strong Flamethrowers put the Riptide back down to 7-11 to finish the half.
The crowd was cheering for their team as they came back out after half, rejuvenated by the comeback Vancouver had already made. The talent pool between the two teams is fairly similar, so the question that remained was who was going to be able to play their game.
San Francisco scored right out of half, but the Riptide opened their scoring with a pretty put to Andre Gailits in the endzone from Gagan Chatha. Chatha had a monstrously good game in a matchup where few players were consistently performing, and led the Riptide in almost every stat category- Defence, Offence, Plus Minus and Playing Time. Though he didn’t catch up to Fenton’s record of 8 goals in the July 20th San Diego game, Chatha brought down 5 goals and 4 Ds while throwing 1 assist and 3 ‘hockey’ assists, truly showing his capacity as a two- way player. Few players on the Flamethrowers could match up against his height and speed, and only core handlers Norris and Underhill had more touches on the disc than he did.
Regardless to extreme efforts from Chatha and others, notably Tejpar and McFadyen, the Riptide were unable to dig themselves out of the hole they were in. The mental game never really came back, and the fight seemed to go out of the team to an extent. The result of this was turnover after turnover, creating very long points despite the wind not being too significant for talented throwers. When the third quarter finished, the score was 12- 15 for San Francisco, very low for an AUDL matchup. Neither team was playing impressive ultimate as a whole, and seemed to be content to trade points.
Continued impressive play by Tejpar in the 4th quarter helped put the Riptide back within striking distance for a moment. A few beautiful full length hucks from the player with the biggest fan club other than Richie Tam were completed to bring the score back up to within 3. With five minutes left the score was 16-19, but the Riptide couldn’t find a way to coast that moment of momentum all the way through.
The three point gap was uncrackable for the Riptide defence, and the Flamethrowers took home a win of 19-22. However, for those of you doing the math at home, I agree. This does mean the Riptide won or tied every quarter but the first disastrous one. Aside from going down 0-5, Vancouver would have won the game. Arguably, the Flamethrowers played a cautious game offensively due to their early lead, and simply chose to coast on the strength of the first ten minutes to the bitter end. That aside, it still managed to be an exciting matchup, and the fans never gave up on their team.
The next home game is Sunday, July 19th against the Seattle Cascades, our Northern Rivals. Tickets are already on sale, and it is your last chance to watch the 2015 Riptide play!